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Vidya Sagara / Our Tradition / Advaita Vedanta / Unified views of the two main schools of Vedanta

Unified views of the two main schools of Vedanta

Единые взгляды двух главных школ Веданты

The unified concept of Vedanta about the Universe

Following Badarayana, Shankara and Ramanuja reject theories that explain the world 1) either as a product of material elements (atoms) that combine to form objects, 2) or as a transformation of the unconscious nature (prakriti), which arbitrarily creates all objects in its development, 3) or as a product (combination) of two types of independent reality, that is, matter-prakriti and God, one of which is the material (upadana), and the other is the acting (nimitta) cause that creates the world from the material. Both Shankara and Ramanuja agree that an unconscious cause cannot create the world (jagat); they both argue that even the dualistic concept of two primary independent realities - conscious and unconscious - creating the world through interaction is unsatisfactory. The Shankara and Ramanuja schools adhere to the Upanishads, according to which "Everything is Brahman" (Sarvam khalv idam Brahma), and matter and mind are not independent realities, but are rooted in the same Brahman. Thus, both schools are monistic, believing in a single, absolute, independent Reality, which permeates the world of a multitude of objects and a multitude of selves. Badarayana, followed by Shankara and Ramanuja, carefully examines the unsatisfactory nature of other opposing theories of the origin of the world. The refutation of these opposing views is based both on independent reasoning and on the evidence of the ancient scriptures of Shruti. We can summarize here those independent arguments with which the main theories of Indian philosophy are refuted.

Refutation of the teachings of Sankhya and Vaisesika about the creation of the world

The Sankhya teaching that unconscious primordial matter (prakriti), consisting of three gunas (sattva, rajas and tamas), produces the world without the intervention of any conscious force is not satisfactory. For the universe is a system of well-adjusted objects, and it cannot be believed that the latter were the accidental product of some unconscious cause. As Sankhya herself admits, this world, consisting of living bodies, senses, motor organs (karma-indriyas), and other objects, was created precisely in order to be suitable for various souls who are born in accordance with their past deeds (karma). But how can unconscious nature carry out such a complex plan? It's hard to believe that this could have happened on its own. Recognizing that the world has a goal (liberation of the Purusha), but at the same time denying the existence of a conscious creator (Ishvara), the Samkhya puts itself in an absurd position. Teleology, which denies the existence of a conscious creator-steward, is meaningless. The adaptation of the means to the ends is impossible without conscious leadership. Sankhya points to the spontaneous discharge of milk by a cow to feed the calf as an example of an irresponsible but purposeful act. However, it is forgotten that the cow is a living conscious being, and milk production is caused (among other things) by her love for the calf. It is impossible to give a single convincing example where an irresponsible object would perform a complex purposeful act. Souls (purushas), the presence of which is recognized by the Samkhya, are inactive and, therefore, cannot contribute to the evolution of the world. A great connoisseur of Indian metaphysics, Schopenhauer writes in his notes on Sanskrit literature: “The philosophy of the Sankhya school, which is considered the predecessor of Buddhism, unfolds before us the basic dogmas of any Indian philosophy, including the need to get rid of sorrowful existence (in samsara), the correspondence of transmigration of souls to deeds ( karma), cognition (jnana) as the main condition for self-liberation, etc. But all this philosophy (sankhya) is corrupted by one basic false thought - the absolute dualism of principles: prakriti and purusha. And this is where Samkhya is at odds with the Vedas. Therefore, the question remains insufficiently clarified - why is prakriti (i.e. matter) trying so hard to liberate Purusha? Further, the Samkhyaiks tell us that the ultimate goal is the emancipation of the Purusha, and then suddenly it turns out that Prakriti (from itself) must be freed. All these contradictions would not exist if Prakriti and Purusha had a common root. " The Protestant Sanskrit scholar Richard Garbe, on the other hand, strongly advocated a dualistic and theistic interpretation of the Vedas. He was very unfriendly towards Advaita Vedanta, and even deleted from his translation of the Bhagavad Gita all those passages (i.e. shlokas) that contained at least hints of monism (i.e. Advaita) and the theory of illusion the material world. (Garbe's disciple Rudolf Otto went even further in the application of this anti-scientific method.) Hatha yoga is also refuted by the Vedic dictum: “There is no uncreated (i.e. Nirvana) through the created (i.e. physical effort)” (Mundaka Upanishad) because it is impossible to achieve the final Liberation through manipulation of the physical body. The Vaisheshik doctrine that the world is formed by a combination of atoms is also untenable, because the atoms devoid of consciousness cannot create this superbly adapted (for life activity) world. The Vaishesika system recognizes, of course, the moral law of adrishta, which governs the atoms in the creation of the world. But this law is also devoid of consciousness, and therefore the difficulty is not eliminated. In addition, it remains unclear how atoms are first set in motion. If movement were the inherent nature of atoms, then they would never stop moving, and there would never be a disintegration (pralaya) of objects, which is recognized by the Vaisheshikas. Of course, the Vaisheshik school recognizes souls, but they have no inner consciousness. Consciousness arises only after souls unite with bodies and organs of cognition, and the latter do not exist before the creation of the world. Therefore, atoms cannot receive any conscious guidance, even from the side of souls.

The unified teaching of Vedanta about God

We have seen that even in such ancient times as in the Vedic period, God was understood in two aspects: God pervades the world, but is not exhausted by it; He goes beyond it. God is both immanent and transcendental. These two aspects of understanding God passed through the Upanishads into later Vedanta, although not all thinkers attached the same importance to transcendence and immanence. The teaching that God is in all things is called pantheism. Therefore Vedanta is usually indicated by this term. Pantheism etymologically means the theory "everything is in God." But if everything is God, then the question is: is God just the totality of all objects in the world, that is, the totality of things, or something more? - remains open. With this distinction, the word "pantheism" denotes a theory according to which God dissolves in nature, while "panentheism" is used in the second sense. To avoid ambiguity in the word "pantheism" and keep in mind that God in Vedanta is not just immanent, but also transcendental (in His main aspect), we will call the Vedantic teaching about God, rather, panentheism than pantheism.

Broader and narrower meanings of the word "God"

It should be noted here that in the Upanishads and later in Vedantic literature the word "Brahman" is used to designate both the Supreme Principle, the Absolute Reality, and the creator of the world (the object of worship). As the creator of the world, Brahma-Prajapati is one of the trimurti. In this, the second meaning in the later literature, the word "Ishvara" is found. In English, the term “Absolute” is sometimes used to denote the “Supreme Reality” and the word “God” is used for the creator of the world. But the word "God" is used in a broader sense in both meanings (for example, in Spinoza, Hegel, Whitehead). In his work Evolution of Theology in Greek Philosophers (vol. I, p. 32), Edward Card defines "the idea of ​​God as an absolute force or principle." Here we use the word "God" together and along with the term "Brahman" in a broader sense (to denote both God in religion and the Absolute in philosophy); the context in each case will suggest its exact meaning. The use of two names, or names, can cause the assumption of the presence of two realities and obscure the correct understanding of these two terms as a single Reality with two sides.

Another point on which the followers of Vedanta agree is the following: they all believe that the knowledge of the existence of God, Brahman, is carried out primarily not through meditation, but through the revelations of the Holy Scriptures, Shruti. They admit, of course, that pious souls leading a religious life can comprehend the presence of God. But initially we must proceed from the mediated knowledge of God through the undoubted testimony of the Holy Scriptures. Thus, in Vedanta, as in nyaya and other theistic systems, almost no attempt is made to provide purely logical evidence for the existence of God. The arguments presented are usually limited to showing the general insufficiency of all theories of God that are not based on sacred Scripture, and to justify the teachings set forth in the sacred texts. This position of Vedanta seems somewhat dogmatic and sometimes becomes the object of criticism. It should be noted, however, that even many Western philosophers (like Kant, Lotze, and others) from time to time speak out against theistic evidence, considering it weak and unsatisfactory. Lotze made it clear that unless we start with some faith in God, rational evidence of his existence would be of little use. Therefore, Lotze points out, all evidence that God exists is good for justifying our faith. According to Lotze, this belief follows from “an unknown impulse that prompts us to move in our thinking - since we cannot but do this - from the world given in experience to the world not given in experience, but located above and beyond experience. " According to Vedanta, initial faith is necessary for both religious life and thinking. "The Believer Gains Knowledge." But although the starting point of this faith lies in a feeling of dissatisfaction, anxiety and striving for something Higher, it remains blind wandering in the dark until the Vedantin (Jnana Yogin) is enlightened by the Teaching of the Holy Scriptures, Shruti, indicating the path to knowledge God-Brahman. Reflection (manana, chintana) is necessary for understanding this Teaching, realizing its irrefutability and eliminating doubts. Reflection itself is an empty form or method of thinking, capable of acting only in the presence of material. Scripture provides the mind with material for speculation, argumentation and reflection. This kind of dependence of the mind on material delivered from an irrational source is not unique to theology. Even the greatest discoveries in science go back to some irrational source, such as intuitive glimpses of truth in the imagination, which thinking then tries to justify through further observation, experimentation, proof, and development. "Dialectics," says Bergson, "are necessary to justify intuition." Although all followers of Vedanta accept the scriptures as the primary source of faith in God, they make full use of meditation to justify and develop this faith. They know from the Upanishads that God, Brahman, is the infinite, conscious, all-embracing Reality, the creator of the Universe, as well as its keeper and destroyer. Each of the followers of Vedanta tries in his own way to develop what, from his point of view, is the most consistent theory of God. The Badarayana sutras are dedicated to God and are therefore called the Brahma Sutra. However, they are written for a human being, that is, for an embodied soul, and therefore are also called the Sariraka Sutra. Thus, in Vedanta, man is given a central place. It is for his enlightenment and salvation that Vedanta engages in philosophy. But what is the real nature of man? The Upanishads teach that man does not exist independently of God, Brahman. Both Shankara and other Vedantists agree on this. But they interpret the dependence of our I on God in different ways.

Shankara and Hinduism

Shankara very often tried and still try to squeeze into the Procrustean bed of the so-called Hinduism. (By the way, the frequent use of the concept of Hinduism is a tribute to ignorance, and educated people try to pronounce this word as little as possible; the word Hinduism itself is a fictitious term meaning that which does not exist in reality. Hinduism is an abstract concept, with a light hand which is supposedly allowed to unite, or rather, lump together, completely incompatible and antagonistic views and doctrines. For example, the philosophy of Shankara and the philosophy of Ramanuja (and even more so Madhva) reveal glaring contradictions and obvious dissimilarities among themselves on almost all important points, - however both the one and the other, and the third are often called the philosophers of Hinduism, and none of the Indian or Western scholars has ever been able to give a clear and precise definition of the so-called Hinduism simply because there is no Hinduism as such, and never has been. this is an attempt to combine the incompatible.) It is understandable: Shankara is the most famous, influential and authoritative thinker in matters of metaphysics, psychology and religion. But the inner connection between Shankara and Hinduism is essentially weak and superficial; It would be more fair to call Advaita Shankara more Buddhist than Hindu. After all, Hinduism is just a vulgar folk religion, and Advaita-Vedanta is a sacred spiritual Teaching, hardly suitable for the broad masses. Advaita is the inner, secret Doctrine of all religions, beliefs and systems. Shankara himself repeatedly emphasized that one who has grasped the essence of the Teachings of Advaita, who has attained merging with Brahman, can no longer call himself either a Brahmin, or a Kshatriya, or a Vaisya, or a Sudra, or a man, or a woman, or fat or thin, neither rich nor poor, neither young nor old, that is, all self-identifications are dropped, and only the pure Spirit, Brahman, remains. But the ignorant continue to label Shankara as “Hindu”, “Hindu”, etc., not realizing that Shankara Himself has nothing to do with them. Such false concepts as caste, nationality, country, state affiliation, etc. are not applicable to the pure Spirit, Brahman, the exponent of which is Shankara. All these empty and meaningless concepts were invented by politicians in order to deceive and subjugate the masses of the people to their power. It is clear that Shankara, with his desire to free people from the tyranny of dogmas and prejudices, comes into conflict with the actions of unscrupulous politicians. Shankara's philosophy rightfully belongs to all intelligent people living on Earth, without exception, and is not at all limited to the narrow framework of one Hinduism or any other cult complex. The title of Sri Shankaracharya is Jagad Guru, i.e. Teacher, Guru of the whole world, the whole Universe.

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